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“I felt that impending sense of doom” : Nurse with Eastern Kentucky roots almost dies from COVID-19

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 5:55 PM EDT
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MAGOFFIN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Magoffin County Native Kourtney Shepherd holds many hats as a wife and mother, but she is also a healthcare worker. “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse and I absolutely love what I do,” she said.

She has worked at the frontlines since the beginning, taking care of COVID-19 patients at Saint Joseph in Lexington. In November of 2020, she herself became a victim of the virus, after falling ill shortly after a shift when her foot first became swollen.

Things soon turned for the worst. “Woke up about 4 that morning and I just felt terrible. I woke up everything was black. I could hardly walk and I called to the living room and my husband was still awake and I told him to call 9-1-1,” she said.

The situation was dire as Shepherd is a type 1 diabetic. She was flown from her local hospital in a helicopter back to Saint Joseph after waiting for an open ICU bed.

“I don’t really remember much after that. I don’t remember going into the hospital or anything. I don’t even really remember them telling me that I was positive for COVID,” she said.

Now a survivor, she says the experience forever changed her life.

“I remember when I woke up, I felt like that impending sense of doom. I thought that was the end,” she said.

She still deals with long term side effects. “I started to develop these micro clots . I did get one in my finger that left me with permanent nerve damage so I have very limited feeling in my index finger on my dominant hand,” she said.

As cases throughout Kentucky continue to surge, she has one message.

“I see a lot of people and hear a lot of people say you know they don’t want to live in fear there whole life but fear to me is needing an ICU bed and not being able to get one,” she said.

Shepherd says while the vaccine was not yet available when she contracted COVID, she is now fully vaccinated and encourages people to consider receiving it.

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